Unless you live under a rock you have probably noticed that there is recreational drug use all around us. Recreational drug use is usually, but not always, present at music festivals and concerts in particular, where people are intent on experiencing a show with the most sensory stimulation possible. I am by no means justifying the use of recreational drug use. Instead, I hope to provide informative answers to many questions and concerns in order to keep people safe. If you are at all curious about the dangers and effects of some popular and common music festival drugs, read on.
The Drug: Marijuana
AKA: weed, pot, ganja, bud, Mary Jane…
Probably one of the most well-known recreational music festival drugs, marijuana grows from the Cannabis plant and is intended as a psychoactive drug or medicine. It can be prepared in many ways and found in many forms. If you hear others referring to joints, blunts, bowls, bongs, vapes, bubblers, splifs, dabs, edibles, etc., they are talking about marijuana. Marijuana is legal in many parts of the world and some places in the U.S., but not everywhere.
The Effect: Chilled Out
Everyone reacts to marijuana differently. The attraction to this drug stems from its short-term effects on the human perception as a result of the THC found in the plant. Most users will be able to feel the effects of this drug within minutes. Some feel relaxed, while others feel out of control or even paranoid. If you want to play it relatively “safe” and take it slow, marijuana is a drug that will relax your body and mind or even give you the “giggles.” If you begin to feel paranoid, which isn’t always likely, remember that everything is simply mental. Focus on your breathing and get lost in a conversation with a friend or the music and your thoughts will wander elsewhere.
The Drug: MDMA
AKA: E, Molly, Ecstasy, Rolls, Mandy…
MDMA is a psychoactive drug consumed primarily for its euphoric and empathogenic effects. Because it acts as a serotonin-releasing agent, it is one of the most popular recreational drugs at music festivals for its sense of euphoria, over all well-being, and happiness. The drug gives off a sense of increased sociability and empathy, enhanced sensations, and enhanced colors and sounds. It can be found in forms such as capsules, gel caps, tablets, pills, or loose crystals or salts. It can cause inability to sleep, excessive sweating, grinding of the teeth, dilation of the pupils, and dehydration. One of the reasons MDMA is extremely dangerous is because it increases heart rate and blood pressure, which, mixed with other substances or by itself, can lead to respiratory distress and even death.
The Effect: Pure Happiness
Users will be able to feel the effects of the drug within 30-45 minutes. You will first realize that your heart rate has increased and you will feel as giddy as a five year old in line to Disney land. Because of it’s empathogenic effects, you will not only feel patience towards everyone, but absolutely adore everyone you meet and want to know more about them. You will feel like you are in an Herbal Essences commercial while washing your hair in the shower, but you need to remember to drink plenty of water to continuously hydrate yourself. Chances are you will also have a lot of energy for a good 3-8 hours after depending on how many times you have used this drug. Although you feel extremely happy and content, your wits are still with you. Not that I recommend it, but you could probably take the SATs on Molly, and still do well.
The Drug: Mushrooms
AKA: magic mushrooms, ‘shrooms,’ psilocybin mushrooms…
Psilocybin mushrooms are also referred to as psychedelic mushrooms, because they create an effect of altered senses of stimulation. These are some of the most popular drugs at music festivals because of their hallucinogenic properties. Mushrooms are actually difficult to abuse because the more a person ingests them, and the more frequently, the effects lessen.
The Effect: On Cloud 9
This drug is effective roughly a half hour after digestion, although it may take up to a couple hours to sink in. Mushrooms can lead you to feel like a piling heap of giggles and deep laughter that hurts your abdomen the following day. You begin to look at things in a different way than you normally would and usually this is extremely amusing and comical to you. The user might feel nauseous now and again and need to take it “slow.” Listening to lyrics of the music at the festival will make so much sense to you and you will wonder why it took you so long to understand the messages behind the songs. This drug is dangerous because of its hallucinogenic properties, which can deceive our perception of realty, causing people to react in dangerous ways. A music festival may be too much stimuli for a first time-user. A simple trial run in an open and safe park with a friend may be a better bet for a first timer. A negative or unsafe environment can lead the user to feel a “bad trip,” where they are not in control of the hallucinogenic effects.
The Drug: Cocaine
AKA: coke, blow, snow, sugar…
Cocaine is a nervous system stimulant, and is very powerful. After marijuana, cocaine is the most-used recreational drug and yet another one of the most popular music festival drugs. It is made from the leaves of a coca-plant, and 1-3% of the developed world have used cocaine in their lifetime. It is bitter to the taste and can be injected, ate, or inhaled. One of the dangers of cocaine, however, is the fact that you never know what it might be laced with. Dealers can substitute part of the drug with sugar, flour, other drugs you are unaware of, or even glass to bulk up their ante. Cocaine is highly addictive based on the pleasure paths created in the brain.
The Effect: Hyper and Energetic
The mental effects include either feeling an intense happiness and burst of energy or on the other hand, agitation, as well as a loss of reality. Effects are felt within minutes and can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. At best, cocaine will allow you to dance non-stop with your friends into the night and chat it up with everyone you meet. You will have an up-beat demeanor and a positive and focused energy. At its worst, you will have very little patience and find yourself irritated at the smallest things. You may get into an argument and whereas before you would shrug it off, now you may become more stubborn. Whatever effect you find yourself feeling, good or bad, you will most likely remain resolute to these feelings until the drug wears off.
The Drug: Opioids
AKA: Painkillers, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Morphine, Codeine, Opium Poppy…
These drugs work predominantly in the central nervous system and are used as a pain killer. People experience extreme sedation, drowsiness, and sometimes euphoria as effects of these drugs. Many of these drugs are prescribed after serious injuries to help subside the pain that occurs in the healing process. Therefore, many of these drugs can also be seriously abused, as people start to become dependent upon them and don’t like the way they feel without them.
The Effect: Out of It
The effects will start to take place within fifteen-twenty minutes of ingesting and can last for several hours. The effect of painkillers can best be described as the feeling of “zoning out.” Motor skills and perceptions of reality are skewed while on these pills, which is dangerous because abusers aren’t as aware of their actions. If you want to relax your body and lay down listening to music while watching the stars, that is pretty much the only thing this drug will allow you to do.
The Drug: DMT
AKA: Salvia, Ayahuasca, “The Elves,” Machine Elves, Triptamine…
Stricter forms of DMT are very rare to find these days and sought after for its effects, which are extremely hallucinogenic. They were mostly popular at music festivals in the 60s and 70s. DMT provides a psychedelic, intense effect of feeling “out of this world.”
The Effect: Is This Real Life?
Although its mental effects are like that of an extremely powerful mushroom, its appearance is like that of an acid. It is usually found in an off-white crystaline powder and smoked in a glass pipe, however it can also be injected or swallowed. Apparently one of the most terrifying aspects of this drug is that in extreme cases its hallucinogenic properties can cause hallucinations of strange characters or humanoid beings, otherwise known as otherworldly-alien like beings, thus coining the term “Machine Elves.” This drug can last fifteen seconds to fifteen minutes and allow you to feel “out of this world.” Some people claim to have “seen the light” with this drug, so be prepared to experience intense hallucinations. If you are interested in experiencing an out-of-body experience, this would definitely be it. Again, make sure you are in a safe and comfortable environment with friends.
The Drug: LSD
AKA: Acid, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide…
LSD is well known for its key role in the 1960’s “counter culture” music. Some claim that the Beatle’s hit song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” implies “LSD” but this has been denied several times by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They claim instead that the song was inspired by the story Alice In Wonderland, (as if that’s any less trippy).
The Effect: Trippy Sensations
In short, LSD provides the user with an altered state of thinking, like that of DMT, with closed and open-eyed hallucinations and a skewed sense of time. LSD is most commonly taken in the form of a “tab.” Senses may also “cross over” meaning you may feel as if you can see sounds and hear colors. Your ability to make sensible choices is extremely altered. For example, you might be so into the music that you may not realize you have lost your friends at the concert or are in the way of passing traffic. Although it is not addictive, it is particularly dangerous because it can cause delusion, paranoia, and anxiety. In rare cases it can cause schizophrenia or post-traumatic stress disorder after a bad experience or a bad “trip.” It can last for a long period of time, and in some extreme cases more than 24 hours.
*Please note that we strongly discourage recreational drug use as it is against the law.*
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Featured Image Source: glamradar.com, musicfreaksunited.
Opehlia is a student at NYU majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing. She loves small coffee shops, reading science fiction novels, and her Pomeranian.